UPDATE 2-China's miners, oil firms reap rewards of high prices

Fri Feb 3, 2012 4:14am EST

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BEIJING Feb 3 (Reuters) - China's mining and oil exploration firms saw sharp increases in profits last year, but refiners, processors and utilities fared much worse with government controls over retail fuel and power prices making it difficult to pass on higher raw material costs.

Total industrial profits rose 25.4 percent in 2011 from a year earlier to 5.45 trillion yuan ($864.8 billion), the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday on its website. www.stats.gov.cn.

Profits at oil and natural gas exploration companies rose 45 percent, while profits of ferrous metal mining companies surged 53 percent, driven by surging iron ore prices over large parts of last year.

Profits of companies in the oil refining, coking and nuclear fuel processing industry tumbled 93 percent in 2011, while those of power generation and heating firms dropped 11 percent.

Chinese refineries and power producers were not able to unilaterally set their output prices while their input prices were subject to market volatility, subjecting them to a profit squeeze.

The government did not raise fuel and power prices in line with increases in crude oil and coal costs last year as Beijing made controlling inflation a top priority.

Top Asian refiner, Sinopec Corp , lost 23.09 billion yuan ($3.66 billion) on refinery throughput of 4.37 million barrels per day from January to September and PetroChina lost 41.54 billion yuan on crude runs of 2.66 million bpd during the same period.

Huaneng Power International Inc , China's largest independent power producer, warned on Monday that it expected its 2011 profit to fall more than 50 percent from a year ago.

Chinese state-owned enterprises earned a total of 1.50 trillion yuan in profits last year, up 15 percent from a year earlier.

In December alone, all industrial companies made profits of 790.7 billion yuan, up 31.5 percent from a year earlier, it said.

($1 = 6.3018 yuan) (Reporting by Aileen Wang and David Stanway, additional reporting by Jim Bai; Editing by Ken Wills and Chris Lewis)

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